My late mother seldom spoke of her childhood. Times were hard during the great depression, and her life on the farm must have had its share of difficulties. One story she did tell me was the night of the northern lights. In our part of the world, (Minnesota) the Aurora Borealis shines brightly several times a year, depending on solar activity. Cloud cover and the illumination of cities decreases the opportunities to see it, but usually we can catch some in late summer or early fall.
One night, when my mother was a child, she witnessed a fantastic display, where the Northern Lights radiated downward from a point straight overhead, to all points of the compass.
She never saw another like it again, and was deeply impressed by it. Tonight we had a similar show, and I can see why she remembered it. I first noticed the lights on the western horizon, looking like pencil-thin spotlights, about six beams piercing the night sky. I thought perhaps the neighboring town had an opening or holiday show. And then I looked east, and saw broad bands of light glowing silently there. Then I looked up, and there it was, the point of emanation, lights arrayed in a 360˚ panorama. I felt as if some flaming meteorite would come crashing down upon my head. And of course my mother's story came to mind. And I could see how, coming from a somewhat drab childhood, my mother would remember that moment to share with her child.
UPDATE: The light display was caused by ice crystals in the air! There was an explanation in the paper today. That is even stranger than the Aurora- I've seen that many times, but I've never seen the likes of this!